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Editorials

A Step in the Right Direction

We commend the administration for a step toward transparency.

By The Crimson Staff

Earlier this month, President Drew G. Faust announced that the University would enlist Boston lawyer Michael B. Keating to prepare an independent, external review of the administration’s conduct throughout the Gov 1310 cheating scandal. Following several months of embarrassing blunders on the part of various administrators, this was a welcome development. Even more auspicious, however, was the recent announcement by William F. Lee, ’72, chair of the Harvard Corporation subcommittee that oversees the external review, that Keating’s findings will be made public to the Harvard community once completed.

This decision reflects a welcome change in the administration’s handling of the fiasco in that it may suggest a newfound commitment to transparency. Lack of transparency, of course, has been a key issue throughout the entire process, with perhaps the most notable example being Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds’ admission that she broke university policy and authorized two email searches without the requisite permission of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Michael D. Smith. In general, the administration’s tight-lipped reaction to the email-search scandal has left students unsatisfied, and this lack of communication has led to confusion and distrust in an environment where trust is of vital importance.

It is for exactly these reasons that we commend Harvard for deciding to make Keating’s report public to the student body. We believe that doing so is a major step toward rebuilding an environment in which students can reasonably trust that the University will be honest and transparent in its operations. Having called for greater transparency in the past, we appreciate that the administration has listened to student demands for improved communication. We hope that this decision will set the tone for the administration’s future dealings, and that the legacy of these clandestine email searches will soon become a thing of the past.

On a less auspicious note, however, we remain disappointed that Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds has neither resigned nor apologized directly to the students of the College. Though the University is taking a step in the right direction in releasing Keating’s report, undergraduates have still not received sufficient indication from administrators that the release of the Keating report will be part of a larger effort to rebuild the trust that was lost in the debacle. At the very least, Hammonds should directly apologize to all members of the Harvard community, including the students of the College. We do recognize that she has worked to make amends with members of the faculty, but that ought to be a beginning to the process, not an end.

This has been a hard year for the Harvard community, with incessant, disappointing revelations about the cheating scandal and its investigation causing much concern on campus. With the release of this independent report, we hope that the University will begin the process of closure on the scandal. After a year of so much disheartening news, we hope that the community as a whole can begin the next school year having learned some valuable lessons about honesty, trust, and transparency.

Correction: May 1, 2013

A previous version of this editorial stated that Dean Hammonds had not formally apologized to Harvard students. In fact, students were included in Hammonds' formal apology to the Harvard community.

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